What's Wrong With Web Sites?
part 2 - How About Some Useful Information?

by Sheldon Wolfe, RA, CSI, CCS, CCCA

CEOs listen more to their advertising people than to their product representatives and distributors

part 1
why give it to me if I cant' use it?

part 3
getting it right

Last month we looked at user agreements, found on many web sites. Most people ignore them, clicking happily on every "I agree" option that appears without reading what it is they are agreeing to do. I am not aware of any test of these agreements in the courts, but you don't want to set the precedent, do you?

Before we proceed, I want to again thank those manufacturers who are have - and use - e-mail and web sites. As noted before, I find the Internet is now approaching the virtual library envisioned by its creators and users. The amount of information available through my Internet connection is amazing, and it continues to grow each day. Product data, guide specifications, test reports, and more are available almost instantly at any time. Keep it coming!

Assuming we get by the user agreement, what do we see at the typical web site? More to the point, what's wrong with what we find?

the learning curve

Most web sites first appear with a lot of information about the manufacturer: who they are, where they are, what they are trying to do, goals, history, mission statements, stuff for stockholders, a nice picture of the headquarters building, maybe some pictures of the president, and some of the employees, a picture of the president's dog, the cafeteria lunch menu, legal disclaimers, maybe some sound effects or music, an animated graphic of a spinning globe (never saw that before), and…oh, yeah - a picture of a product.

I used to wonder why an established company, known to the industry, familiar with construction, and formerly quite helpful in selecting products, would suddenly abandon all and throw up an ugly, useless web site. I may have found part of the answer.

It seems many CEOs listen more to their advertising people than to their product representatives and distributors. (If you have any doubt, consider this: Johns Manville changed its name to Schuller International. And then changed it back. Need I say more?) So when they finally decide that a web site just might be needed, who gets to design it? The advertisers!

Fortunately, many companies eventually decide that, having announced to the world how clever and modern they are, they just might be able to add some content that would be useful to their clients.

Next month we'll look at specific examples of web site problems, and how they can be solved.

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© 1999 Sheldon Wolfe, RA, CSI, CCS, CCCA
on the web at www.CSI-MSP.org